Chapter Sixty Seven
“Is that what I think it is?” Adam demanded.
Daaem jumped and fumbled the little box in his hands, just barely catching it before it could fall to the floor. He glared at his friend. “Ever heard of knocking?”
“I did. Twice. You didn’t hear me?”
Adam held out a hand. “Let me see it.”
Daaem pulled the box close, clutching it protectively against his chest. “No.”
“I’m not gonna break it, Daaem,” Adam said pointedly. “Is it sized right?”
Daaem shook his head. “I don’t know her ring size,” he admitted grumpily.
“So it is a ring. About time.”
Daaem looked away, blushing. He may have had the ring but he hadn’t proposed. Nor would he be proposing any time in the near future.
The other man stared at him like he’d just announced an urge to jump off a cliff. “Why the hell not?” he demanded.
“I – I don’t… It’s none of your business,” Daaem finally snapped.
Adam levelled an unimpressed look at him. “Oh no? You do realize that Iman is just about ready to take the two of you to a mosque by your ears, don’t you?”
Daaem’s eyes widened. “What?!” he spluttered. “Are you serious?”
Adam chuckled. “She wants to see Aabirah happy. And she’s liking you more every time you meet.”
“She won’t actually do that, though. Will she?” Daaem checked.
“No, not if I stop her.”
“Oh,” Daaem breathed a sigh of relief. “Good.” He had no doubt that Adam’s tiny wife would get them to do whatever she wanted.
“Of course, that means I need to know what is going on,” Adam commented lightly.
Daaem narrowed his eyes. “You’re enjoying this way to much,” he grumbled.
“You don’t have to tell me,” Adam assured him, grinning. “You can always go up against Iman yourself.”
“And die,” Daaem muttered. He sighed, squirming. He didn’t want to admit why he hadn’t proposed yet. It was embarrassing! But he knew that Adam was completely serious.
“I – I’m nervous,” he admitted, staring at his desk.
Adam waited. When it became clear that Daaem was not going to say anything more, he raised his eyebrows. “Is that all? You’re nervous.”
“Yes,” Daaem snapped. “And it’s a valid issue!” he added, outraged.
Adam rolled his eyes. “Everyone is nervous when proposing. It’s normal. Being completely confident would be strange!”
Daaem looked away. “It’s not normal nerves,” he argued. “I – I start stuttering and I forget what I want to say. It’s awful.” He shuddered just thinking about it.
“That’s normal,” Adam told him flatly.
“I’ve never stuttered like that. Not in my entire life.”
“Have you ever asked the woman you love to marry you before?” Adam asked pointedly.
“No,” Daaem admitted reluctantly. “But-”
“But nothing!” Adam cut him off. “This is normal. Suck it up and do the thing. Quickly, too.”
“Stop being so bossy!” Daaem complained.
“I have to be bossy,” Adam snapped. “If I hadn’t been, you would still be sitting on your behind, not proposing and waiting the rest of your life for the nerves to go away! Honestly,” he shook his head. “What would you do without me?”
“I’d have less headaches,” Daaem grumbled. He’d most likely be dead without Adam and he knew it. But Adam didn’t need reminding of that little fact.
‘You’re worthless! You can’t do anything right! Why don’t you just stay out of the damn way for once?’
Cruel words that Mehmood Amal had hurled at her throughout her life had been haunting Aabirah all day. She needed to distract herself or she would lose her mind.
She looked at the time, trying to decide whether or not it was worth it to call Daaem. He was probably in a meeting… She sent a quick text and waited.
Barely a minute later, her phone began to ring. Aabirah smiled in relief and answered immediately.
“Hey,” she greeted brightly.
“Hi. What’s up?” Daaem asked. “Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine,” Aabirah lied. “It’s just been one of those days. Are you busy right now?”
“No. Actually, do you want to have lunch with me?”
Aabirah looked at her phone in surprise. “Are you sure,” she asked doubtfully, suppressing the urge to just shriek yes and run to get dressed. “Aren’t you busy?”
“Not at all. I’ll pick you up in fifteen minutes.”
“Okay,” she gave in. “I’ll see you just now.”
Daaem was true to his word and a quarter of an hour later, they were on their way.
Aabirah felt his gaze on her more than once but whenever she turned to look, Daaem’s eyes were focused on the road.
“Is everything okay?” she asked him worriedly, eyeing the speedometer. Daaem was an excellent driver, despite the many accidents he’d been in. But he didn’t usually drive quite this fast.
“You’re driving really fast,” Aabirah pointed out, trying to hide her nerves.
“What? Oh!” He decreased his speed immediately. “Sorry, I didn’t even notice.”
They arrived soon after and Daaem continued to act strangely. They barely spoke and by the time the meal was over, Aabirah was wishing that she’d just stayed by herself.
“Are you ready to go?” she asked once their table had been cleared.
Daaem paused, a strange look on his face. “Let’s go for a walk,” he said abruptly. “It’s a nice day.”
“O-kay,” Aabirah agreed. A walk? What was going on?
They walked silently for a few minutes. Finally, Aabirah couldn’t take the awkwardness any more. “Daaem, what’s wrong?”
He stopped to look at her. “Nothing,” he muttered, looking anywhere but at her. “Everything’s fine.”
Aabirah fought the urge to stamp her foot and shriek. “You’ve been acting odd all day,” she persisted. “Did I do something?”
Daaem’s eyes widened and Aabirah felt dread low in her belly. “What is it? What did I do?” she asked, hurt.
“You didn’t do anything,” he insisted. “Everything’s fine.”
“No, it’s not!” Aabirah snapped, losing patience. “Just tell me!”
“I want to marry you,” Daaem blurted out.